Nice solid B
(See Thomas’ notes on how he grades)
Cobalt City: Los Muertos is a super hero world that is exceedingly dark (think Sin City). While there is cooperation between some of the heroes, others just do their own thing as is the case in this book.
The story follows two different heroes as they both independently search for the same villain, an assailant who leaves a perfect circular hole in her victim’s foreheads, not killing them but draining their memories. This antagonist, dubbed Trepanning Mary, seems to have been doing this for centuries. Hero one: the Tatterdemalion is a large collection of women who have imprinted themselves into the animate “Parliament of Rags”. Hero two: Gato Loco is a Batman-esque character driving around on his motorcycle and using his high tech armor and strives to do justice.
The story grabbed me and held me, not like the crush of a python but more of a gentle friend. I read this book over a month, not ever forgetting it, but not feeling the urgency to finish it immediately. The very few rough patches in the plot didn’t keep me from moving on.
I found the ending a bit brief and the hype of the build-up a bit oversold on the wimpy boss but it still didn’t disappoint. I would certainly entertain further books in the Cobalt City series in spite of the fact I’m not a big fan of superhero novels nor of reading dark works.
Kudos to Nathan Crowder for bringing us Los Muertos.
This review is by Thomas Gondolfi, author of Toy Wars and the CorpGov Chronicle and numerous pieces of short fiction in the genres of science fiction and cyberpunk. He is also the owner of TANSTAAFL Press (How do you like your SciFi? ).
The Tatterdemalion is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever run across. The mental hoops Lynette jumps though dealing with her genetic fore-mothers (each bound to her costume) as they kibitz and kvetch through every action was delightful! The powers of the Parliament of Rags are also very nicely thought out and used.
The setting of Cobalt City is as detailed as it is dark and gritty. It felt to me like one of the old Sam Spade detective novels or even a modern day equivalent to Blade Runner.
I very much enjoyed the fight scenes in the book. They gave me enough detail to turn them into a movie in my head. Not every writer can accomplish this.
Not So Good
While I liked Manuel de la Vega, I found his superhero alter-ego a knockoff of Batman. Living above the strip joint was great, but I never embraced Gato Loco.
Mini Spoiler Alert
I would have liked a different plot end other than the tired wheeze of “let’s bring all the dead back to life.” I grant you it was done it in a more unique way but I didn’t see any reason why the big bad guy couldn’t have just started with this instead of dragging through all of the intermediate stages.